One place for hosting & domains

      IT Horror Stories, Just in Time for Halloween

      From out of control on-premise fires to misplaced tequila bottles that delete customer data [NSFW—language!], there’s a lot that can go nightmarishly wrong in the tech world. While we don’t often want to ruminate on what’s beyond our control, Halloween is the perfect time to face our fears, and entertain ourselves in the process.

      In celebration of the spooky season, below are IT horror stories to give you the chills, or maybe just a laugh.

      Dropped Database

      Our first story comes from Paweł Kmieć, a senior managing developer, who shared with ThinkIT an all-important lesson about knowing your environment. Kmieć was developing a reporting application. The deadline was drawing near and everything was going well. It was time to move the application from the development environment into production.

      As Kmieć tells it, “I happily launched all necessary data imports and spent quite a lot of time manually verifying and cleaning data afterwards. The day before [the] demo to our CFO, I mistook the dev database with the newly created production database and issued a statement which still haunts me ten years later: DROP DATABASE.”

      Kmieć reports that he hasn’t developed in production since this incident.

      Beer Goggles

      Easy jobs can sometimes end up being harder than expected. Egor Shamin, a system administrator, shared with us a story from 2012 at a previous job. He and a coworker traveled to do what he describes as a “cushy job”—building a network for 30 PCs.

      The first day of work went smoothly, and they only had to pin out network sockets and install patch panels, so they chose to spend the rest of the night relaxing. After sharing a few drinks together, Shamin turned in for the night, but his coworker kept on drinking.

      “We were both late to work the next day, which was already a bad start,” Shamin recounts. “But what made it worse was that we needed to run one more wire, and the line we had physically didn’t allow it. My partner decided that he’d be able to neatly widen the line with the drill. Thanks to the nine beers he’d had the previous evening, all the guy managed to do using the drill was cut down all of the wires.”

      The pair ended up working late into the night making wire twists since they didn’t have any other cable. Shamin says that, to his credit, his coworker did most of the job himself. And in the end, the network worked perfectly fine.

      Getting Squirrely


      For all of our efforts to control our environment, nature often has other plans. Did you know that squirrels are among the reasons that data centers sometimes go down? Reddit user JRHelgeson had a brush with a squirrel squatter himself while moving customer equipment into a new facility.

      There were a number of things he saw that could go wrong. The furry creature might burrow under the raised flooring and build a nest in the fiber bundle. Or he might have the run of the data canter by getting up on an overhead ladder. JRHelgeson knew his team had to act fast to evict the gate crasher.

      “We had guys with packing blankets moving in from three sides to get him cornered and he scurries up to the top of a rack filled with customer equipment. As they are closing in, the squirrel starts growling and—preparing for a fight—empties his bladder, raining down on the servers in the rack.”

      The team finally caught the squirrel and got him out. Fortunately, no real damage was done since the top of the servers were sealed. From that day forward, if the outside door is open, the interior door is closed, or an alarm will go off.

      The Little Patching Server That Could

      The web has a treasure trove of nightmare stories if you know where to look. The next story, featured on Global Knowledge, was shared by Derrick B., and serves as a reminder to never do patching work in the middle of the business day, even if the patching isn’t expected to have a major impact.

      Derrick’s team was all set to patch Windows servers. Change Management approved their patching and timing, which was intended to occur after hours to minimize impact. Everything started off well, until the patch management server crashed and wouldn’t reboot. Calls were put out to hardware support for troubleshooting, but the field tech didn’t arrive until the next day. The tech ran diagnostics and solved the problem, which only led to bigger issues.

      “The monitoring console lit up like a Christmas tree and pagers started going off all around the server and application admins’ aisles,” Derrick says. “Servers were going down all across the enterprise. Senior managers started calling to find out what the heck was going on. Customers were being impacted as applications became unavailable.”

      It turns out the patching server just wanted to do its job. It has set a flag to run the patching jobs before crashing and picked right up where it had left off as soon as it was repaired.


      Cleaning up databases should always be done with great care. GlowingStart founder Alex Genadinik shared his horror story with Business News Daily, recounting a time when he accidentally deleted around 26,000 business plans on his apps.

      “I was cleaning up some old tables in a database and noticed a table with a weird table name. I thought that it was something experimental from a long time ago and deleted it,” Genadinik says. “Then, literally five minutes later, I started getting emails from my app users that their business plans were deleted.”

      With the number one function of his apps wiped out, Genadinik had a big problem on his hands. He went to work with his hosing provider and was able to have the database restored within a day after paying a fee. Talk about a scare!

      Gone Phishing

      PhishingUnfortunately, the next story is becoming an all too common occurrence for IT professionals. Our own Victor Frausto, security engineer, shared a past incident with a phishing email that was spammed to employees from one user’s account. Even though the attempt was caught early and minimized, the resulting work to reset the account and ensure the malicious email didn’t spread made for an eventful day at work.

      “We had to disable the compromised account, scan the laptop, re-enable the account and change the password,” Frausto said. “And then we had to that for anybody who opened the spam email and clicked on the malicious link. Scary!”

      Sometimes, the scariest thing in tech can be the feeling that you have to go it alone. Check out INAP’s managed services and disaster recovery options to get a handle on your IT nightmares!

      Happy Halloween!


      Laura Vietmeyer


      Source link

      How To Set Up Time Synchronization on Debian 10


      Accurate timekeeping has become a critical component of modern software deployments. Whether it’s making sure logs are recorded in the right order or database updates are applied correctly, out-of-sync time can cause errors, data corruption, and other difficult issues to debug.

      Debian 10 has time synchronization built in and activated by default using the standard ntpd time server, provided by the ntp package. In this article we will look at some basic time-related commands, verify that ntpd is active and connected to peers, and learn how to activate the alternate systemd-timesyncd network time service.


      Before starting this tutorial, you will need a Debian 10 server with a non-root, sudo-enabled user, as described in this Debian 10 server setup tutorial.

      Step 1 — Navigating Basic Time Commands

      The most basic command for finding out the time on your server is date. Any user can type this command to print out the date and time:


      Wed 31 Jul 2019 06:03:19 PM UTC

      Most often your server will default to the UTC time zone, as highlighted in the above output. UTC is Coordinated Universal Time, the time at zero degrees longitude. Consistently using Universal Time reduces confusion when your infrastructure spans multiple time zones.

      If you have different requirements and need to change the time zone, you can use the timedatectl command to do so.

      First, list the available time zones:

      • timedatectl list-timezones

      A list of time zones will print to your screen. You can press SPACE to page down, and b to page up. Once you find the correct time zone, make note of it then type q to exit the list.

      Now set the time zone with timedatectl set-timezone, making sure to replace the highlighted portion below with the time zone you found in the list. You'll need to use sudo with timedatectl to make this change:

      • sudo timedatectl set-timezone America/New_York

      You can verify your changes by running date again:


      Wed 31 Jul 2019 02:08:43 PM EDT

      The time zone abbreviation should reflect the newly chosen value.

      Now that we know how to check the clock and set time zones, let’s make sure our time is being synchronized properly.

      Step 2 — Checking the Status of ntpd

      By default, Debian 10 runs the standard ntpd server to keep your system time synchronized with a pool of external time servers. We can check that it's running with the systemctl command:

      • sudo systemctl status ntp


      ● ntp.service - Network Time Service Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/ntp.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled) Active: active (running) since Wed 2019-07-31 13:57:08 EDT; 17min ago Docs: man:ntpd(8) Main PID: 429 (ntpd) Tasks: 2 (limit: 1168) Memory: 2.1M CGroup: /system.slice/ntp.service └─429 /usr/sbin/ntpd -p /var/run/ -g -u 106:112 . . .

      The active (running) status indicates that ntpd started up properly. To get more information about the status of ntpd we can use the ntpq command:


      remote refid st t when poll reach delay offset jitter ============================================================================== 0.debian.pool.n .POOL. 16 p - 64 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 1.debian.pool.n .POOL. 16 p - 64 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 2.debian.pool.n .POOL. 16 p - 64 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 3.debian.pool.n .POOL. 16 p - 64 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 + 2 u 12 64 377 39.381 1.696 0.674 + 2 u 6 64 377 22.671 3.536 1.818 3 u 43 64 377 12.012 1.268 2.553 2 u 11 64 377 69.922 2.858 0.604 2 u 10 64 377 35.362 3.148 0.587 # 2 u 65 64 377 42.380 1.638 1.014 +t1.time.bf1.yah 2 u 6 64 377 11.233 3.305 1.118 *sombrero.spider 2 u 47 64 377 1.304 2.941 0.889 +hydrogen.consta 2 u 45 64 377 1.830 2.280 1.026 - 2 u 42 64 377 29.077 2.997 0.789 #horp-bsd01.horp 2 u 39 64 377 16.165 4.189 0.717 2 u 46 64 377 27.914 3.717 0.939

      ntpq is a query tool for ntpd. The -p flag asks for information about the NTP servers (or peers) ntpd is connected to. Your output will be slightly different, but should list the default Debian pool servers plus a few others. Bear in mind that it can take a few minutes for ntpd to establish connections.

      Step 3 — Switching to systemd-timesyncd

      It is possible to use systemd's built-in timesyncd component to replace ntpd. timesyncd is a lighter-weight alternative to ntpd that is more integrated with systemd. Note, however, that it doesn't support running as a time server, and it is slightly less sophisticated in the techniques it uses to keep your system time in sync. If you are running complex real-time distributed systems, you may want to stick with ntpd.

      To use timesyncd, we must first uninstall ntpd:

      Then, start up the timesyncd service:

      • sudo systemctl start systemd-timesyncd

      Finally, check the status of the service to make sure it's running:

      • sudo systemctl status systemd-timesyncd


      ● systemd-timesyncd.service - Network Time Synchronization Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/systemd-timesyncd.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled) Drop-In: /usr/lib/systemd/system/systemd-timesyncd.service.d └─disable-with-time-daemon.conf Active: active (running) since Wed 2019-07-31 14:21:37 EDT; 6s ago Docs: man:systemd-timesyncd.service(8) Main PID: 1681 (systemd-timesyn) Status: "Synchronized to time server for the first time (" Tasks: 2 (limit: 1168) Memory: 1.3M CGroup: /system.slice/systemd-timesyncd.service └─1681 /lib/systemd/systemd-timesyncd

      We can use timedatectl to print out systemd's current understanding of the time:


      Local time: Wed 2019-07-31 14:22:15 EDT Universal time: Wed 2019-07-31 18:22:15 UTC RTC time: n/a Time zone: America/New_York (EDT, -0400) System clock synchronized: yes NTP service: active RTC in local TZ: no

      This prints out the local time, universal time (which may be the same as local time, if you didn't switch from the UTC time zone), and some network time status information. System clock synchronized: yes means that the time has been successfully synced, and NTP service: active means that timesyncd is enabled and running.


      In this article we’ve shown how to view the system time, change time zones, work with ntpd, and switch to systemd's timesyncd service. If you have more sophisticated timekeeping needs than what we’ve covered here, you might refer to the offical NTP documentation, and also take a look at the NTP Pool Project, a global group of volunteers providing much of the world's NTP infrastructure.

      Source link

      Should I Switch Web Hosts? How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate Your Site

      When it comes to starting a website, web hosting is one of the most crucial yet most confusing aspects to tackle. With dozens of providers on the market, it can be hard to cut through the noise and figure out which one offers the best plan for you.

      Fortunately, several signs will make it clear when it’s time to move to a new host. While they’re not so pleasant to deal with in the moment, these issues may lead you to a better service provider that can help you boost your site’s success.

      In this post, we’ll discuss these signs and how to spot them on your website. Then we’ll explain how to migrate your site to a new web hosting platform. Let’s get started!

      Have a website? We’ll move it for you!

      Migrating to a new web hosting provider can be a pain. We’ll move your existing site within 48 hours without any interruption in service. Included FREE with any DreamPress plan.

      How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate (6 Tell-Tale Signs)

      It’s possible you’ve been experiencing problems with your website for a while now without really knowing why. In some cases, it may be that your web hosting provider isn’t a good fit for your website. These six signs will let you know it’s time to switch web hosts.

      1. You’re Experiencing More Downtime Than Usual

      Any time your website is unavailable to users, it’s considered ‘down.’ Even if your site is only unavailable for seconds at a time, it could cause serious problems. For starters, downtime makes your website appear unreliable and low-quality to both users and search engines.

      If your site is experiencing frequent outages, your users will come to find they can’t rely on it to be available when needed. The Google algorithm will account for this, and your search engine rankings will fall as well, hurting your site’s visibility.

      Plus, if your site generates revenue, you’ll be missing out on income every time your site has an outage. If your site is down often or for long periods of time, you could be losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. When you’re running an online store, uptime truly affects your bottom line.

      Web hosting is one of the most common causes of website downtime, as there are many ways in which your server can impact your site’s availability, including:

      • The quality and reliability of your hosting equipment
      • The type of server your website is on, as shared servers tend to become overloaded more quickly than other types of servers.
      • Your host’s security features, since malicious attacks can lead to downtime.

      So, if you keep finding your website is down, there’s a fair chance your host may have something to do with it. Moving to a more reliable server is the best thing for your site in a situation like this.

      2. Your Website’s Loading Speed Is Slow

      Site speed is also key to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), users’ opinions of your site, and your conversion rate. It’s wise to test your site’s speed every once in a while using tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom to make sure your loading times are staying low and to fix any performance issues.

      Pingdom’s results screen.

      While a crowded server can certainly slow your loading times, your server’s location also plays a role in how fast your site delivers information to visitors. Servers located far away from end users aren’t able to serve them content as quickly.

      An easy way to determine if this is the case for your website is to use Pingdom to test your site speed from a variety of locations. If your site loads quickly from some places yet takes a long time to load in others, you’ll know server location is causing speed issues for users in those regions.

      If your host only has servers in one location and doesn’t offer a Content Delivery Network (CDN), it’s almost guaranteed that some portion of your users will experience less-than-ideal site speed. It may be worth looking into hosts with more or different locations, or ones offering a CDN.

      3. Customer Service Isn’t Helpful

      A solid relationship with your web host is priceless. For starters, there are going to be times when server-related errors occur on your site. In these instances, you’ll need to be able to get ahold of your host quickly to resolve the issue and get your site back up. Plus, you may sometimes have questions about billing or other account details.

      However, the best hosts also offer support in other areas of website management. For example, many hosts provide troubleshooting guidance for different types of errors on your website or support for platforms such as WordPress.

      If your host is difficult to get in touch with, provides inadequate solutions, or doesn’t offer support in areas directly related to your hosting account, consider switching to a new provider. While you may be able to get by without quality customer support, at some point, you’ll have to reach someone for help with a server-related problem, so you’ll want a reliable team at your back.

      4. You Need More Space Than Your Current Provider Can Offer

      Most websites start small and grow over time. Your current host may have been a great fit when you were first launching your site, but if your traffic levels have increased significantly, this may no longer be the case.

      As your site accumulates more recurring users, you’ll need a server that can handle more traffic as well as more and larger website files. Moving from shared hosting to a dedicated server can help, but switching hosts can often provide a greater benefit.

      Some providers specialize in shared or Virtual Private Network (VPN) hosting and may not offer dedicated servers. As such, if your site continues to grow, you’ll need a dedicated web hosting service at some point — so a switch may be inevitable.

      Other hosts may have dedicated servers available, but still not offer as much storage as you need. Ultimately, you’ll want to compare plans between companies to see which one offers the most space for the best price.

      5. It’s Getting Too Expensive to Stay With Your Current Host

      Web hosting is a recurring expense. It’s also sometimes the largest expense associated with running a website, especially for WordPress users working with a free Content Management System (CMS) and mainly free plugins and themes.

      It’s true that you often get what you pay for with hosting. However, there are also times when an expensive plan isn’t necessary. If your site is still small and not using the amount of server space you’re paying for, or if your current hosting plan comes with several features you never touch, you’re probably paying too much.

      There’s no sense in breaking the bank to host your website when there are plenty of affordable options available. For example, we offer high-quality managed WordPress hosting plans for as low as $16.95 per month.

      If you’re shelling out more money for web hosting than what your website brings in, you might want to consider downsizing or switching hosts to stay within your budget. Plus, it never hurts to pocket a little extra cash each month.

      6. Server Security Is Sub-Par

      As we mentioned earlier in this post, hosts are responsible for securing their servers. Not every provider is as diligent as they should be when it comes to security, and hackers will sometimes exploit weaknesses in your server to gain access to your site.

      This can be detrimental to your website for multiple reasons, including:

      • The loss of parts or all of your site due to a malicious attack that destroys key files and data.
      • Compromised user data, including sensitive information such as private records and credit card details.
      • Decreased credibility, as users will see your site as less reliable if it’s hacked.

      Investing in secure hosting is a smart move. Even if you have to pay a little extra or go through the trouble of migrating to a new host, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble down the line.

      Some security features you may want to keep an eye out for are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, malware scanning, and server firewalls. Of course, no matter how secure your server is, you should always follow security best practices for your site itself, too.

      How to Migrate Your Website to a New Hosting Provider

      If you’ve considered the signs mentioned above and determined you should switch hosting providers, you’ll need to migrate your website. This requires you to copy all your website’s files and move them to your new hosting account.

      Typically, the migration process is pretty involved. You’ll have to contact your current host, back up your site files, then use Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) and a client such as FileZilla to connect to your new server and upload your files. You’ll also want to consider transferring your domain since there are benefits to keeping your domain registration and web hosting under one roof.

      As you might imagine, there are a lot of things that could go wrong during this process. For example, corrupted backups are always a possibility, and using SFTP still poses a risk to your site’s files as you could mistakenly delete some or all of them (we recommend users always have a recent backup of their site on hand).

      These things considered, it’s helpful if you can get an expert on board to migrate your site for you. Fortunately, if you’re a WordPress user and have decided to switch to DreamHost, our managed WordPress hosting plans include free website migration services.

      DreamHost’s WordPress migration services.

      We’ll handle moving your site at no extra cost. If you’d prefer one of our shared hosting plans or have a website built without using WordPress, never fear. You can still take advantage of our migration service for just $99.

      Our migration experts will get your site moved to your new hosting account within 48 hours of your request. You’ll also avoid downtime altogether, so you don’t have to worry about negatively impacting your users’ experience while you move your site and get acquainted with the DreamHost control panel.

      Looking for a New Hosting Provider?

      We make moving easy. Our hassle-free, high-performance WordPress hosting includes a FREE professional migration service ($99 savings)!

      Switching Web Hosts

      Hosting can be one of the most confusing aspects of owning a website. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know if your web hosting provider is the best one available for your needs.

      If you’ve noticed these issues on your website and have decided it’s time for a change, consider checking out our DreamPress hosting plans. Our managed WordPress hosting service will provide you with the speed, support, and security your WordPress site needs. Plus, you’ll be able to use our site migration services for free.

      Source link